Ships Ahoy!

Barquentine or Brigantine?

Starting in 1749, Captain Ephraim Cook sailed several times to Nova Scotia, bringing settlers from Europe. In 1754, Cook sailed to the South Shore to start his own settlement at Mahone Bay and began shipbuilding. By 1900, every man, woman, and child was directly or indirectly sustained by this industry. Shipyards remained the primary business of Mahone Bay until the mid-1970s, producing well over 1,000 ships in 220 years of shipbuilding.

As you make your way along the main streets, you’ll notice the metal ship silhouette signs fixed to poles along the route. Hosted by the Mahone Bay Heritage Boat Yard Co-op, these represent many of the styles of ships that were produced here in those years. Though many seem similar, they were carefully designed to suit particular needs, functions, and crew sizes.

Enjoy learning the names of these proud vessels and some of the terms that distinguish the features of each, and visit us to see the bay where seafarers from near and far continue to make port. You might even catch sight of a schooner!



A barque or bark is usually a three-masted vessel, with the fore and main masts square-rigged and the mizzen mast or after mast rigged fore and aft. The four-masted barque was a relatively common rig on the oceans, but only two were built in Canada. The John M. Blaikie was launched in 1885 at Great Village, and the Kings County was launched in 1890 at Kingsport.